"No, but I have friends who tell me I never date Black guys but that I need to. There’s also commentary about any guy I’m interested in even if he’s Black, about him not being Black enough. So it probably would be easier for me to hide relationships from my friends, but I never have."
"I never felt self-conscious about my skin tone. My mother told me I was beautiful because I was dark skinned. I didn't know why she constantly did this until I was older. My mother was building me up for the world that didn't put Black women on a pedestal. But her positive words stuck. I always liked myself and felt beautiful. I've met women who didn't like themselves because of their skin tone and didn't even hold their heads up when they walked into a room. Then they didn't take care of themselves, a self-fulfilling prophecy."
"My favorite black female character is Issa from HBO's Insecure. Besides Issa being absolutely hilarious, I love the many layers that her character portrays. It allows viewers to see a the non stereotypical version of a black woman. And it exemplifies an array of the many dimensions a black woman can possess."
"I would tell 12-year old Yaba that a day will come when the world sees her beauty. That for some of us beauty is something that we grow into, not just physically, but emotionally. I would tell 12-year-old Yaba that her time was on the way, to be patient, and in the meantime, remind herself how DOPE she really is."
"Yes! You are meant to think and act a certain way. More polite than rude, more calm than loud, less of being bold and proud of yourself, more shy and self-conscious. These expectations are only there to limit us as women. Do not group us into one basket when we are all unique to ourselves."
"I want to change the perception of girls of color in STEM and in mainstream in general. And if I could wave a magic wand I would change how people treat each other in this world. I would eradicate racism."
"The insecurities you have of not knowing what you want to be when you grow up will eventually go away when you find your purpose at 30 years old. I know it seems like it's far away, but the experiences, knowledge and people you meet along the way will be beneficial to you becoming a successful Chef & Entrepreneur."
"I have not, however, I have witnessed on several occasions this happening to my sister (which I grew up closely with in Louisiana). I can remember family members and friends asking her why was she 'acting' or 'talking white' with her mannerisms and pronunciation of certain words. I never really thought of how it affected her until I was old enough to understand that some people are just not comfortable around others with differentiating education levels. My grandmother (who I heard saying this the most) was only educated up to the sixth grade and went to work. I understand it better now."
"Yes, I've been judged on where I chose to live. I use to live in a less than financial location but commuted everyday to a school for Taylor to attend so that she could have a good education. It was 50 miles round trip. I got a lot of slack for doing that because people thought I was thinking we were better, but all I wanted was a place where Taylor would be safe and get a good education."
"I tried to hide that I was smart! I’m sure that probably sounds conceited, but in 1964-1971, there were very few blacks in my elementary school in the small California town where we lived - I instinctively knew that it would not be in my best interest at the time to seem smarter than my [white] classmates. I chose to keep a low profile, blend in and not speak up in class. But I made sure that my teachers were aware of my capabilities."
"I have struggled with being biracial, in some aspects because often I am not 'black enough' to pass as Black and then not 'white enough' to be considered White. I never had a problem with my racial identity until I moved to the United States and it was pointed out as a problem. I identify as a strong, woman of color and to me we come in many shades and the power in the blood of my ancestors cannot be denied regardless of the color of the packaging. I don't let it effect me anymore, regardless if it's pointed out that my struggles may not seem fair or the same."
"Making the Deans list at a time when I had no confidence in myself while sitting in a classroom full of students fresh out of high school. I believe praying over each assignment was key!"
"No, not that I can think of. I am a firm believer in everything starting in the home, and my parents did an outstanding job of instilling confidence and affirming me at a young age."
"YES. YES. YES. Ageism, racism and sexism are still really big limitations for me. I'm often the youngest in my academic field and in the art world there's ageism as well. Being a Black woman also carries that baggage--the assumed arrogance, aggression and abrasiveness. People don't understand that my ultimate motivator is survivalism--I grew up poor and without electricity at times because we couldn't afford it. What others see as rushing I see as surviving--doing something in a year that took someone my senior 10 years to do can be hindering when that person is on a committee or in your peer group in charge of your advancement."
"I would say to my 12-year-old self… Stand tall!!! Trust yourself and not others because you got this. Be fearless in everything and adventurist in all things and most importantly be authentic and follow your dreams no matter what anyone has to say to you!"
"At one time I felt like being a woman was the new Black. Male and societal discrimination and inequalities made it almost impossible to be strong, goal oriented, intelligent and opinionated without being accused of trying to be a man or dare I say 'difficult.' While we're still fighting that battle, what makes makes me hopeful is to see that women ourselves have come such a long way. We are not waiting to be accepted. We now have a bit more confidence and say in the workplace, we've become more independent in relationships and to me it lessens our need to 'flex.' We're becoming comfortable with other women around us having power as well. Not as much of a need to compete or play dirty."
"Yes, I would still go to a place even if I was the only Black woman there, because our presence and voice is important. I am not worried about being the only Black woman in a room, because I have experienced various environments in which diversity was both evident and nonexistent."
"YES! I was judged by family, friends, strangers…you name it, they had something to say about the way that I sounded. I was often told that I 'sounded white,' which felt so strange to me. To me, I sounded like my parents; I sounded like my siblings. I didn’t understand what about the way we talked was 'white.' As a kid, I was incredibly
self-conscious about my speech when I was around other Black people. And one day I was watching an episode of Arsenio Hall, where Ice-T was a guest, and he said something that helped relieve some of that discomfort. He was discussing the topic of 'sounding white' with Arsenio and said that it was ignorant to say that, because saying that “affirms that White people have the monopoly on sounding intelligent.” That completely spoke to me – why should White people be the only people to sound smart?"
"I see young women and men who are confident in their identities, even if their identity is complicated (as all of ours are!), and clear that they have every right to have a voice."
"There are definitely BIG expectations of being a Black female. Number one is that you are strong and will put up with a lot. There are many stereotypes so there is an initial assessment made and then the box is created into which you must fit. Being a classic unicorn I often get the comment that you are so unusual when really its just no I defy your limited expectation. I am strong and sensitive, reserved and sensual, also patient and outspoken."
"Millennials are the first generation of women to assume that their livelihood and their ability to create change in the world are one and the same. It's exciting because women are more likely to ascend in their leadership when their careers are connected to their passion and purpose."
"What makes me hopeful as a Black female is that Black people continue to be fearless about responding to the way we feel we are depicted in mainstream media. The call out game is strong. For example when journalists, writers, tv shows, etc., make statements or share content that is insensitive or disrespectful, people are very comfortable going to platforms like Twitter, The Shade Room, Tumblr, etc. as a way of expressing themselves. This also helps to teach and enlighten others as well."
"Strength...and the 'I can do anything' attitude. Instead of following traditions, they are making their own path."
"Tracee Ellis Ross as Dr. Rainbow Johnson on 'Black-ish' is my favorite TV character because of how she normalizes her success. It’s not a big deal that they are financially well-off or that she has a distinguished job. It’s important to see that on TV."
"I grew up being judged by the Black community because I spoke in their opinion "too white." I use to try and learn a new word a week from the dictionary, and when I would use those words, I was called boujee, too proper, or trying to act better than my community. When I hung out with girls that weren't Black, I was also judged. High School and early college were extremely hard for me, I wasn't black enough for the Black students and wasn't white enough for the White students. Once I realized the way I speak or who I hang out with doesn't define me; I began to place little stalk in what other's thought. I had to be comfortable with who I was, and I liked me!"
"Yes. I am by nature a very artistic person and have an intense passion for music. I was a classically trained pianist in my youth, served as music director, and was on my way to pursuing a career in the music industry. As often happens with parents who want the 'best' for their children, I was strongly 'encouraged' to pursue career options that were more stable, economically predictable - hence how and why I ended up with 2 Business Degrees and a rewarding career in Corporate America. Oddly enough, I don't have many regrets in hindsight as I am now able to combine my business skills with my love for the arts by serving in music management and investment."
"This is an interesting question because I'd want to say-it depends on the person. I've had experiences where I do feel like there is a genuineness with people who look like you and have your same hair texture. They just 'get' it. Whereas, working in a few jobs, I found myself being agitated because the (non POC) seemed to not know how personal and intimate it was to me. There is history, passion, individuality and a personal narrative behind my hair. There was a time when a (non POC) did ask to touch my hair and I did not seem to mind it- I'd want to say that in my hair journey, I've come to build strength and love my hair even more- my self identity and I want to protect it. It's gold, its beautiful and there's energy in touch, so you gotta protect your crown from certain vibrational energy. At the time mentioned I was still early and learning parts of myself, so now it's more personal to me and touching it doesn't fly with anyone anymore."
"Question everything. Whatever you are learning and being socialized to believe can be incorrect."
"Absolutely! I think there's an underlying expectation that we have to accept what society has deemed as the appropriate level of 'black.' Sometimes I feel worried to express feelings of sadness or stress because I'm afraid people will misinterpret it, or that I won't be taken seriously because I have tattoos and an alternative look. And to be honest, they often do, but I'm learning how to navigate how I want them to perceive me and how I fit into their lives. Being mixed and possessing lots of melanin has confused many people into thinking I should act or look a certain way, when the reality is I love the person I'm becoming and the challenges I faced to get there. I think it's incredibly important we break these stereotypes, and also embrace what the individual beyond our skin color."
“Help those that feel left out. Be inclusive and caring. Be steadfast and speak up. Also, know that there is always someone you can go to and talk to...friends, family members, a teacher, etc. And know that the Lord is always there to answers your prayers.”
"Intellect. No one can take that from you."
"Yes. I grew up in a small predominantly white town, and the first crushes I had were on white boys. From a young age I was teased by the boys I had crushes on for being dark skinned, having different hair, and being overall disregarded as a potential romantic partner. As I grew old enough to actually date, I continued to deal with microaggressions on a regular basis in the dating world. I was treated different not only for being black, but for being female. The most frightening event that resulted from this misogynoir was in college. I was headed back to a (white) guy’s house after the bars, and upon entering was verbally assaulted and chased into a room by his housemates. They proceeded to mock me and call me 'Shanequa, Monique, Sharonda' and other variations of what they perceived to be stereotypical black names. They banged on the door of the room we were in, and if it hadn’t been locked then I don’t know what they would have done. This was the first time I felt physically threatened by the opposite sex for no reason other than being a black female. I began navigating social situations differently after that. In the back of my mind I would always wonder if they saw me, or if they only saw my blackness. I wondered how these people could dehumanize me to that extent simply because of the beautiful melanin I was born with."
“Nice, strong, and beautiful.”
“I love the way that I think and speak. I mix up slang and seven-syllable words with no problem and I'd like to say that it's one of the coolest things about me.”
“Oh yes! Most upsetting was being betrayed by another black colleague. Male colleague. I was on one of my first big jobs as a photographer taking photos in a media pit at a celebrity music concert. This well known male photographer undermined my access by saying who knows what to the security guard on site, that they escorted me out of the pit and kept him in place! Urgh, I was so angry. But I knew deep in my heart that this photographer could not compare to my professionalism and expertise. Fast forward 2-3 years later, he's begging me to work alongside him and professes his admiration of how successful my business has become and apologized for doubting me!”
“Educated, Family Oriented, Beautiful”
“I think black females are expected to do it all; we always have been. Since we came to this nation, our jobs were to nature and raise while acting as an active part of the workforce. Our strength has shaped the foundation of this nation, and since I feel we're always expected to be in service, in all ways.”
“Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, and Dorothy Height. I’d love to hear their perspective on women and leadership in the 21st Century.”
“Everything! I come from a long line of strong, fierce and determined black women and could never and have never contemplated being anything but who I happily am.”